6 February 2013: dear London, on working in the studio … day 26

Before I started painting, having just got to the point where I have realised just how hard it is, some much-needed research into paint itself …
Diebenkorn (with thanks to Jane Livingston’s writing in her wonderful book):
Diebenkorn’s abstract/representational/abstract shifts were seen as problematic by critics. He himself was just concerned with turning practical decisions into higher intentions. Quite.

Cezanne, Matisse, Mondrian were his guides and he certainly had an epiphany in front of:

Matisse window painting

Matisse’s  Window at Collioure painting

which I find hearteningly like elements of my Hackney photographs, and think perhaps I am looking in vaguely the right place.

Brick Lane local colour

Brick Lane local colour

Diebenkorn said of his first experiences as an art student: ‘It wasn’t art that I was interested in, it was drawing and painting … I had no real understanding of drawing and painting as art.’
Then he discovered that Hopper’s mood-saturated light and solidly organized compositional structure was perfect for him, ‘it was the kind of work that just seemed made for me. I looked at it and it was mine’.

Here’s Diebenkorn on the (my!) portrait trap:

‘I wanted it both ways – a figure with a credible face – but also a painting wherein the shapes, including the face shape, worked with the all-over power that I’d come to feel was a requisite of a total work. Clearly there was an inherent trap here and when I first got caught in it, I knew why Matisse sometimes left his faces blank … But there was a compromise … The face had to lose a measure of its personality. The first response in taking it in had to be relational – not as in Old Master painting where the first response might be to character.’
Interestingly, he also suggests that ‘This compromise with the completeness of the face was a large one, one that perhaps undermined my figurative resolve in the long run.’

Figure painting is a dangerous game.

Here goes anyway:

Life Class painting 6 Feb 2013

Life Class painting 6 Feb 2013

Life Class painting (detail) 6 Feb 2013

Life Class painting (detail) 6 Feb 2013

I worked over yesterday’s painting (above) then spent much of the day on the three studio paintings, form the large drawing:

Studio painting 1

Studio painting 1

Studio painting 1 (detail)

Studio painting 1 (detail)

Studio painting 2

Studio painting 2

Studio painting 2 (detail)

Studio painting 2 (detail)

and

Studio painting 3

Studio painting 3

Studio painting 3 (detail)

Studio painting 3 (detail)

which, after many hours of throwing white spirit and knives at carefully (and pedantically) painted areas, seemed more lively.

Then I went back to tone, making three (two-and-a-half just now) paintings from another small Life Class study …

RA Life Class wiped paintings

RA Life Class wiped paintings

RA Life Class wiped painting 1

RA Life Class wiped painting 1

and (it was a busy day) worked up my two of my three earliest Homage paintings from my study day at the British Museum too:

Homage to Van Gogh painting

Homage to Van Gogh painting

Homage to Degas painting, now red ...

Homage to Degas painting, now red …

and even found time to work over two collages (now mixed media):

Homage to Rembrandt mixed media

Homage to Rembrandt mixed media

Homage to Van Gogh mixed media

Homage to Van Gogh mixed media

I need a rest 🙂

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